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My two moms can beat up your eight wives: a marriage update

15 Feb

DSC_0418Since there’s a lot going on, I thought it might be time for a little update on what’s going on in the big gay world.

ILLIONOIS – Yesterday, the Illionois Senate approved marriage overwhelmingly with a vote of 34-21! Happy Valentine’s Day! Support is expected to be thinner but still winnable in the House and we don’t yet know when it will be taken up. Governor Pat Quinn has pledged to sign it into law should the House pass it. YAY!

RHODE ISLAND – About 3 weeks ago, the RI House approved marriage even more overwhelmingly with a 51-19 vote. The Senate is a bit of an uphill battle but certainly not unwinnable. They are looking at a Spring vote and again the Governor is a huge supporter.

OHIO – Currently collecting signatures for a pro-equality ballot measure in 2013

-ARIZONA, MICHIGAN & OREON – Currently collecting signatures for a pro-equality ballot measure in 2014

-MINNESOTA  – Following the beatdown of an anti-gay marriage ballot measure in 2012, and a pwnership of the house, senate and the election of awesome pro-equality Governor Mark Dayton, advocates are pushing for a pro-equality bill in the next few months.

One of these states will most likely be state #10 to (not including the unstate of DC) to approve marriage equality.

SCOTUS! (Supreme Court of the United States) March 26th, SCOTUS will be hearing oral arguments on two marriage cases. The first is on CA’s Prop 8. (Perry)

Possible outcomes of Prop 8 decisions: 

All gay marriage bans will be struck down: This is not a likely scenario, but would make me very happy. Our lawyers are arguing to make this happen by pointing out the unconstitutionality of anti-gay marriage bans and the creation of different classes of citizens federally.

Prop 8. will be overturned: This is what most pundits are thinking will happen. It will overturn the discriminatory law and once again allow gay and lesbian Californians to marry in that state only. CA is different from other states because the courts legalized marriage in May of 2008. From May through November (prior to Prop 8 passing), more than 30,000 gay and lesbian Californians were married. This means, there are three separate classes in CA. Heterosexuals who can legally marry, Gays and Lesbians who are legally married and Gays and Lesbians who are prohibited from marrying. This is a good basis for overturning the ban and some think this is the argument the court will use to do so.

Prop 8 will be upheld: Many think this is unlikely considering the proponents of Prop 8 have no legitimate argument outside of “this is how the people voted.” Every court thus far has overturned or upheld the decision of the previous ruling.

SCOTUS will punt: One of the questions presented by the court was whether or not those defending the anti-gay law had the right to defend it in court. The Brown administration and the one before him had both pulled out of defending Prop 8 because they found it to be discriminatory. After that, the anti-gay campaign began defending it in court. Some don’t believe that a biased campaign has the right to defend a state law in court. If SCOTUS punts, then two things could happen, the decisions of the earlier courts could be upheld or they could essentially issue a do-over.

On March 27th (the next day), SCOTUS will be hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As many of you know, as a side note – Obama’s DoJ stopped defending DOMA a few years ago as on 8 separate occasions now, when the government was sued over DOMA, it has been found unconstitutional – so there’s a bit of precedent here. It’s also clearly a waste of money to defend a clearly unconstitutional law. Yet John Boehner has just increased to $2 million the amount of money they will spend towards lawyers to defend DOMA…yet they keep screaming that we spend too much on frivolous things.

But I digress…

The reason most courts have found DOMA to be unconstitutional is that it violates state’s rights. Legally married gay couples in states that recognize equality are not afforded more than 1100 rights and responsibilities given to heterosexual couples granted by the federal government. This includes everything from federal tax benefits, to citizenship. If I were to marry a man from Argentina – legally, let’s say in DC – they could still be deported because of DOMA. If I (a very gay man) were to marry a woman from Argentina, that marriage would give her the opportunity to apply (and win) US citizenship.

Edie Windos, lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court DOMA cases

Edie Windos, lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court DOMA cases

Possible outcomes of DOMA decisions:

DOMA is struck down: The court could decide that Section 3 of DOMA (that which defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman) violates state’s rights and the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all under the law.

DOMA is upheld: The court could uphold DOMA which would enshrine two classes of citizen where one class is treated differently under federal law than the other. Legally married gay couples would continue to not receive tax and social security survivor benefits. Another side note: 17 year – Congressman Gerry Studds, the first openly-gay member of Congress, was legally married to his partner of 16 years Dean Hara. When Studds died in 2006, Hara was not elegible to receive spousal survivor benefits and pension afforded every other Congressional spouse.

SCOTUS punts: Due to the aforementioned discrepancies with who is defending this law, the court could dismiss the case on procedural grounds. It would of course, find it’s way back to the Supreme Court eventually, but this would make it so they didn’t have to make a potentially unpopular opinion.

There are actions happening all over the country for you to get involved with. Everything from vigils to lobby days to house parties. Go find out what’s going on near you or plan something and let us know about it at Light to Justice or visit the March4Marriage Facebook page.

In the meantime, might I recommend the film Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement (also available on Netflix). It’s a story about Edie Windsor and her wife, Thea. Edie is the lead plaintiff in the upcoming DOMA cases coming before the Supreme Court.

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If you’re straight, I’ll get you a new Macbook.

12 Jun

A friend on Facebook notified me this evening of a troubling Craigslist ad he came across in Los Angeles.

In the ad, a mom or dad is selling their son’s computer because he wants to get the newest version of the Macbook. They go on to explain that they’re not spoiling their son with this new laptop, quite the contrary-because their son was caught engaging in “homosexual acts,” this was his reward for claiming he would choose to be straight.

I’ve written to the person who placed the ad and it’s quite possible that the ad is a hoax. But if for some reason, this young man’s mother finds me through the blog, I wanted to share two important facts and some helpful resources with her.

1. Being gay is not a choice.

2. 1 out of every 4 teen suicides is a gay teen. Among the leading causes of those suicides is a lack of family acceptance.

Family Acceptance Project will help you find ways to treat your son with the respect and love that he deserves.

Visit the Prayers for Bobby site and learn a little something about a Mom who felt the same way you did, and how she feels now that her son is gone.

Then again, it is the new Macbook…I’d probably tell my parents I was straight too if I was going to get a free Macbook. This also may indeed be a hoax, but having a career in knowing about social media trends, new media and how it’s used– the red flags about the danger a kid may be in outweighed the possible red flags of being embarrassed by a craigslist hoax.

UPDATE:

I did receive a response from the poster and have confirmed an address in the correct location. Their response stated:

“I regret to inform you that I will not be calling you. I don’t need for you or anyone else to have my number. Not after all the hatred and threats I’ve gotten.”

I replied with some helpful information, including some of what I have here in the blog post. I have yet to receive a response.

UPDATE 2:

I’ve now done a great deal of research and this story has now been posted on dozens of other sites so, here’s the story…

Anti-Gay Craigslister a Hoax

We Will Not Be Erased.

7 May

Tom Bridegroom & Shane Bitney Crone

It’s been said that telling our stories is what will make the biggest difference in the end. It’s easy to see the statistics that have changed since more and more people have come out and more and more of our loved ones have changed their minds about support for our equality.

Tom Bridegroom was the host of MTV’s The X Effect in 2006 and 2007. One year ago today, while photographing a model, Tom fell off a rooftop to his death. While his passing was discussed on a handful of websites and amongst friends and fans, very little has been said about his relationship with Shane Bitney Crone.

As any story about a couple that had been together 6 years and then broken apart by tragedy would be, their story is heartbreaking. But what’s different about Tom & Shane’s story is that they were set to marry. And while I could write the story here, Shane has found the courage to tell the story himself 0 in the hopes of spreading the word about the inequalities we face and the irreparable harm it does to our families.

Thank you Shane for your bravery and for telling your story so that others may live to see a day when things are different.

Please watch. And share as much as you can.

He Died Waiting to Get Married

8 Dec

Ed Watson and Derence Kernek

A heartbreaking story out of California tonight.

Last March, we posted this article about Derence Kernek and Ed Watson, who recorded a video for California’s 9th Circuit Court, requesting that they allow Judge Walker’s decision to overturn Prop 8 to stand. This request was because Watson had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and they wanted to be married while he still had memories of their 40 years together.

On August 4th, 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional as it denied gays and lesbians due process and equal protection under the law. As Walker had not disclosed that he was gay and in a relationship at the time, Prop 8 supporters filed a motion to dismiss his decision as he would stand to benefit from it. Of course their argument fails to recognize that according to their anti-gay claims – any heterosexual judge would stand to benefit from a decision in their favor.

That argument failed in a lower court and today’s hearings before the 9th circuit were in regards to the anti-gay side’s appeal of that decision.

Last night, on the eve of these arguments, Ed passed away due to complications from his quickly-advancing Alzheimer’s and Diabetes. They were never married.

On top of that, because of the inequality in the law, and the couple’s inability to marry, Watson had been denied coverage under Kernek’s retirement plan (as any heterosexual couple would be entitled to). This caused incredible financial hardships.

Kernek could not be reached for comment as their phone had been disconnected.

Please watch the video that this couple put together urging for marriage equality in California

If a bullet should enter my brain…

27 Nov

By now, most of us have seen the Academy Award-wining film, Milk. While Milk presented a much-untold history, the true impact of this film is now being measured by the vast numbers of young people who found the courage to come out after seeing it, and in conversations about historic LGBT contributions around the globe.

It was on this day, 33 years ago, former Republican San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White took a gun to City Hall. He climbed through a lower-level window to avoid metal detectors and proceeded to Mayor George Moscone’s office. White had resigned his office and went into Moscone’s office hoping to be re-appointed to the seat he’d resigned from. When Moscone refused, White shot and killed him. With extra ammunition, he proceeded to the office of Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay man to be elected to a major city office. White proceeded to shoot Milk 5 times – the final two shots had White pressing his gun directly at Milk’s skull according to the medical examiner.

Harvey Milk had pre-recorded a message after receiving several anti-gay death threats during his political career. The message said “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet shatter every closet door.” Dan White went on to be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than first-degree murder. Despite White’s later statements that he was “on a mission” and  “wanted to kill four of them,” he was not found guilty of pre-meditating anything due to his poor diet.

White’s lawyers claimed that while usually a healthy man, White had been consuming many sugary foods, which led to his mental state. This became known as the “Twinkie Defense.” White went on to serve just 5 years of the very lenient 7 year sentence. 2 years later, White committed suicide by running a garden hose from the exhaust pipe to inside his car.

Following the guilty verdict, men and women rioted outside San Francisco City Hall. Hours after the riots had ended, Police made a retaliatory raid on the streets of the Castro District and the Elephant Walk Bar (now renamed ‘Harvey’s”). Two dozen arrests were made during that raid and the riots, and in the following weeks, after being called upon to apologize, gay leaders refused. The political leverage gained from these events led to the election of Mayor Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein then appointed a pro-gay chief of police who actively recruited gays into the city’s police force.

Dianne Feinstein, who is now a U.S. Senator, is leading the way for LGBT equality by sponsoring the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which would repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

WE WON (for now)! NARTH Can No Longer Provide Continuing Education in CA

26 Jul


After a quick and successful campaign and a Change.org petition started by this blog, we are very proud to announce that the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has had their accreditation pulled.

NARTH was on a list of several hundred organizations which could have provided continuing education credits for Licensed Educational Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Licensed Clinical Social Workers to renew their licenses. This essentially meant that NARTH could be responsible for helping to train the people who have to counsel LGBT youth and families.

For those who don’t know, NARTH is a hateful organization which provides conversion or “ex-gay” therapy for their clients. This form of therapy has been not only disproven as being effective, but many who go through it either commit or attempt suicide. As stated in the note above, this form of therapy has been debunked by  the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Counselors Association.

The organization responsible for accreditation of these groups is the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. We put in several calls and sent over 1,100 signatures to demand NARTH be removed from the list. The Sacramento News & Review reports that BBS Spokesman Russ Heimerich said that NARTH was removed from the list as of last week due to “delinquent fees.” In the meantime however, Heimerich said that the Continuing-Education approval process is on the agenda for the next board meeting in September. He also noted “We certainly do believe that there is a lot of room for improvement.”

The following statement was sent to Talk About Equality in response to our Change.org petition:

This is in response to your recent email to the Board of Behavioral Sciences (Board) in which you expressed concerns that the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) appears on the Board’s approved continuing education provider list.

California Code of Regulation, Title 16, Section’s 1887.4 through 1887.14 specifies the requirements to become a Continuing Education Provider. A Continuing Education Provider must ensure its coursework is relevant to a licensee’s practice and is related to direct or indirect patient care. The Board does not have the ability to deny any application that meets these requirements.

Board licensees are permitted to take continuing education coursework from an array of providers such as an accredited or approved school, or an association, health facility, governmental entity, educational institution, individual, or other organization that offers continuing education courses that meet that meet the law’s requirements.  Further, if a Board Continuing Education Provider approval has expired, the provider may not present a course for continuing education credit for licensees of the Board.  Our records reflect that NARTH’s provider approval expired on October 31, 2010. Accordingly, our continuing education provider list has been updated to reflect provider’s with non-expired approvals.

The Board previously identified concerns with the Continuing Education Program.  A discussion about continuing education and possible regulatory changes will be an agenda item for the Board’s September Licensing and Examination Committee meeting.  Additionally, the Board will discuss the concept of a continuing competency model at its October Policy and Advocacy meeting.  Both meetings will in Sacramento, California.  All of the Board’s meetings are public meetings. The agenda and meeting materials will be published on the Board’s website atwww.bbs.ca.gov  ten days prior to the meeting.

Thank you for contacting the Board with your concerns.

Sincerely,

Kim Madsen

Executive Officer

VICTORY! CA Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Gay History Bill

14 Jul

CA Gov. Jerry Brown

While Californians continue to fight for marriage equality through the courts, they will now be making history by sharing ours.

Today, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 48 into law. The new law, the Fair Education Act will allow teachers to educate on LGBT issues and historical figures. Combatting the bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” law recently passed in Tennessee – which stops educators from discussing anything about LGBT people, SB 48 is now the law in the home of some of the country’s largest textbook distributors.

Brown signed the law after a huge campaign from the National Organization for Marriage to persuade him not to. Some of the lies spread regarding the law claim that kindergartners would be “indoctrinated into homosexuality” and sexualizing children.

Randy Thomasson, President of SaveCalifornia.com refers to the act as “sexual brainwashing.” In an interview on Alan Colmes radio show, CA State Sen. Mark Leno (the author of the bill) argued with Thomasson with regards to the facts of the bill. Thomasson doesn’t believe the history of Harvey Milk should be taught because of his sexual history. Leno Responds with the point that students aren’t taught about John F. Kennedy’s or Martin Luther King Jr.’s sexual history when being taught about them. Leno also pointed out the focus and obsession on sexuality when it comes to those who oppose equality measures like this one. Watch below: